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If Money Was No Object What Would You Do To Change the World?

Don’t tell me about priorities. Show me where you spend your money, and I’ll tell you who you are. – James W. Frick

Last week I asked a group of friends at one of my Setsersonian dinners, if money was not an object what would you do to change the world? After some reflection on my answers that night, here are my edits.


In the bustling rhythm of modern life, where every tick of the clock propels us further into a world of technological marvels and constant connectivity, the essence of the human experience often slips through the cracks of our digital foundations. To reclaim and deepen this experience, I'd propose a transformative yearlong multi-SES + multi-politic cohort model of 50+ people that weaves together the threads of cultural immersion, intellectual exploration, community engagement, and personal growth. This ambitious journey is designed to enrich the lives of its participants, foster a vibrant community of thinkers and doers, and ultimately, cultivate a deeper understanding of what it means to be human in the 21st century in order to apply those lessons in a local context.


Cultural and Intellectual Excursions: A Global Odyssey


At the heart of our model are four cultural and intellectual excursions, each spanning at least 10 days, to some of the happiest countries in the world. These destinations, known for their high quality of life, social equality, and connection to nature, provide the perfect backdrop for exploration and reflection.


  1. Denmark: Our journey begins in the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen, where design, cuisine, and hygge illuminate the Danish way of life. Participants will engage with local thinkers, artists, and innovators, exploring the secrets behind Denmark's perennial ranking as one of the happiest countries on Earth.

  2. Finland: Next, we venture into the heart of Finnish education and sustainability. Here, cohort members will immerse themselves in the world-renowned Finnish education system and its emphasis on lifelong learning, as well as explore Finland's deep commitment to environmental stewardship.

  3. Switzerland: In Switzerland, our focus shifts to the intersection of innovation and tradition. From the serene beauty of the Swiss Alps to the cutting-edge research facilities in Zurich and Geneva, participants will experience firsthand how Switzerland balances technological advancement with preservation of its natural and cultural heritage.

  4. New Zealand: Our final excursion takes us to New Zealand, where the Maori concept of Whakawhanaungatanga, or building relationships through shared experiences, guides our exploration of community and connection to the land. This journey through New Zealand's breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cultures will offer profound insights into the importance of community and environmental harmony.


Between Journeys: Fostering Community and Innovation


In the intervals between these global odysseys, our cohort members will remain engaged and connected through a series of carefully curated events and platforms designed to foster innovation and community.


House of Genius Nights


On a monthly basis, we will host House of Genius nights in multiple U.S. innovation cities such as San Francisco, New York, Austin, and Boston. These gatherings will bring together cohort members and local innovators of all SES backgrounds for evenings of collaborative problem-solving and idea exchange, all under the cloak of anonymity to encourage open and honest dialogue.


Jeffersonian Dinners


Every two weeks, cohort members are charged with hosting Jeffersonian dinners in their respective towns or cities. These intimate gatherings, named after Thomas Jefferson's famed dinner parties, are designed to foster thoughtful conversation on a wide range of topics. By inviting prospective cohort members from diverse industries and political perspectives, these dinners will expand our community's reach and diversity, enriching the collective experience.


Virtual Sessions and Online Community


To ensure continuous engagement and learning, we will host two virtual sessions per month on societal challenges rooted in the sustainable development goals as well as durable skills essential for the future of learning and work. Topics will range from critical thinking and adaptability to technological fluency, healthcare, climate change, and more.


Our vibrant online community, anchored by a dedicated social media group and Slack channel, will serve as a hub for discussion, support, and collaboration. Community moderators will also host virtual sessions on wellness, emotional intelligence, DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging), and other community-based topics to foster personal growth and connection.


Weaving Together the Human Tapestry for Action


This yearlong cohort model is more than just a series of events; it's a journey toward understanding the multifaceted nature of the human experience. By integrating cultural immersions, intellectual explorations, community engagements, and personal growth opportunities, we aim to cultivate a deeply connected, informed, and empathetic community of global citizens.


Through this journey, we seek not only to deepen our understanding of what it means to be human but also to reimagine our collective future in a way that prioritizes connection, empathy, and lifelong learning. I'd then charge each cohort member with setting up similar excursions and events in their home town or city. These cohort models would be funded in stages and based on efficacy for multi-funders to join the party at the local level as well. Instead of working on going to space, we should be spending far more time, energy, and resources improving the spaces, places, and faces involved in our world today. All of the billionaires in our world should step up to accelerate a model such as this to change the odds for all.

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